COVID-19: UK's R number rises slightly to between 1 and 1.4

·2-min read

The coronavirus R number in the UK has risen to between 1 and 1.4, according to SAGE estimates.

The previous range, published on 23 December, gave a weekly figure of 1.1-1.3, with a daily growth rate for new infections of between 1% and 6%.

R - or the reproduction number - indicates how quickly COVID-19 is spreading.

It means that for every 10 people with COVID-19, they are passing it on to another 10-14 people, meaning the virus is growing.

The estimates represent the transmission over the past few weeks due to the delay between someone being infected, having symptoms, and needing healthcare.

SAGE's latest estimates will not take into account the latest national lockdown regulations, due a delay in data.

SAGE advises the government and is made up of a panel of experts headed by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Earlier, the Office for National Statistics estimated that coronavirus infections in England had risen to 1 in 50 people, according to its latest infection survey.

The rise in prevalence comes the same week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to vaccinating nearly 14 million people over the next month, in an effort to ease the latest coronavirus lockdown.

ANALYSIS: There's a big caveat
By Adele Robinson, Sky News

The top end of the R number estimate for the UK has risen to 1.4, while the lower end has fallen to 1.0. It means, on the face of it, that the R number on average has stayed the same as it was estimated to be two weeks ago.

However, there is a big caveat to that. The range of the R number has widened, reflecting variability between regions.

The data is delayed, too, in terms of hospital admissions and deaths - it can take up to three weeks to reflect changes in the spread of the disease.

On wider basis, the variations between regions may reflect the fact that just a few weeks ago, different parts of the country were subject to different restrictions.